On The Waterfront

In 1863, the Russians invaded New York City

In 1863, New Yorkers flocked to the waterfront to see a startling sight — Russian war ships in New York Harbor. They were here as a display of force, but not to threaten the United States. The fleet of Russian ships, sailing into New York Harbor in September 1863, as depicted by Harper’s Weekly. Russia’s… Read More

Brooklyn’s Hell Gate: Dangerous tides off Coney Island

Above: The waters off Gravesend, Brooklyn, sketched by a British general in 1776. They too would have experienced the odd watery phenomenon known as ‘the Potato Patch’. [NYPL] You may know the legend of the East River’s Hell Gate, a rush of violent waters borne from a tidal strait near Randall’s Island, so famous for… Read More

The Narrows sans bridge, from the age of the Titanic

One hundred years ago: here comes the RMS Olympic, sailing into the harbor at right. The lead ship in the White Star line, the Olympic would be cruising the Atlantic several months later, on the morning of April 15, 1912, when its sister ship the Titanic sent out a distress call, having hit an iceberg… Read More


Henry Hudson and the European Discovery of Mannahatta

We turn the clock back to the very beginnings of New York history — to the European discovery of Manahatta and the voyages of Henry Hudson. Originally looking for a passage to Asia, Hudson fell upon New York harbor and the Lenape inhabitants of lands that would later make up New York City. The river… Read More